WFP Representative, Helmut W. Rauch; the Secretary and Private Advisor for the President of the Republic for International Affairs, Mohamed M. Lashtar; the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Mexico and Nicaragua, Hussein M. Alassiri, and the Vice Minister of Education, José Treminio, with students from “Rigoberto López Pérez” School.
Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador, Hussein M. Alassiri, and WFP Representative, Helmut W. Rauch, hand out dates to students. This is the first time WFP has received a contribution of dates in Central America. “I would like to express my happiness in knowing that the donation of dates will be part of the free school meals in Nicaragua,” said the Saudi Ambassador.
In 2013 the Government of Nicaragua reached the goal of providing hot meals to all school children. The Ministry of Education National, through the School Feeding Programme, provides every day more than 1 million hot meals made of rice, beans, corn, fortified cereal, oil, and wheat flour. “Our sincerest gratitude to the people of Saudi Arabia for this valuable donation that complements our country’s efforts of guaranteeing the right to food for children”, said the Vice Minister of Education, José Treminio.
“I would like to thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for generously sharing the gifts of its land with the Nicaraguan children who need to improve their nutrition to stay in school in the poorest areas. We are confident that the students will joyfully receive the dates,” said WFP Representative, Helmut W. Rauch. This donation is worth US$266,000.
In 2008, at a time when food prices hit a record high, WFP received US$500 million from Saudi Arabia – the largest single donation WFP has ever received. Thanks to this contribution, Nicaragua received US$1.2 million to purchase food for 38,000 children, pregnant and lactating women who were at nutritional risk.
Dates have a high nutritious and energy value because of its high carbohydrate, iron, potassium, and phosphorous content. They provide numerous health benefits, highlighted by their contribution to the treatment of anemia. They are ideal for those who need extra energy, such as students and athletes since they improve alertness, concentration, and help replenish energy after physical activity. Saudi Arabia is the world’s main producer of dates.
Fifth graders try dates for the first time. Héctor Ismael González (second left) said that it makes him happy that many kids like him can eat dates in school. “They are very delicious, they taste like candy,” he said. “They taste like syrup,” said Vanessa Reyes (right).
National and international journalists covering the ceremony also tasted the dates for the first time. “They are delicious. I think it is very important to give the dates to children in school, and I am sure they are going to love them”, said the photographer Alejandro Sánchez of the newspaper El Nuevo Diario.
Representatives of the Saudi Arabian Embassy, the Ministry of Education, and WFP visited classrooms of the “Rigoberto López Pérez” school to join the students while they ate their hot meals. According to School Principal Roger Salgado, hot meals have helped improve retention rates among the 800 preschool and elementary students.
To conclude their visit, the Saudi representatives met with Yolanda Ampié, a mother who cooked the meals that day for the first grade classmates of her youngest daughter. “The food helps to bring a lot of students to school because at home some of them don’t eat enough or don’t eat at all,” said Ampié. Sometimes parents agree to complement the meals with some cheese or noodles.